Promoting safety of street children on Georgian roads

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The project has been working with some of Georgia’s most vulnerable children.
The project has been working with some of Georgia’s most vulnerable children.

The Foundation has been supporting road safety programmes, aimed at building the capacity of civil society groups in partnership with EASST, in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

The Safety of Street Children on Georgian Roads project aims to develop an evidence-based strategy for protecting street children from road risk. The project activities have included a survey of street children in high-risk locations, data analysis, the development of targeted training materials and methods to protect street children, the implementation of safety activities with a sample of street children in high-risk areas, and an advocacy/media campaign that aims to improve the safety of street children.

It is estimated that around 2,500 children are living on the streets in Georgia. Initial survey data collected by EASST’s local partner, the Partnership for Road Safety (PfRS), has revealed that kids are vulnerable on a daily basis to risks associated with road traffic crashes. The findings of the survey reinforced just how urgent the need is to provide even the most basic road safety education.

The survey found that over 60 per cent of the children attested to being out on the street for 3 hours or more every day, mainly at night. It also indicated low levels of awareness on crossing the road where there are no crossings, or on how to walk safely in areas with no pavements and the need to wear bright clothing at night or using reflectors. Further, 25 per cent children surveyed admitted to having been involved in a road traffic collision at some point in their lives.

As a part of the project, PfRS have been providing road safety education to street children in Georgia’s biggest cities through a collaboration with the Social Services Department and local centres that are run for children living on the streets.

The data gathered by the PfRS, and their strategy for training these vulnerable children, will be written up into a report with recommendations. It will be presented to the Road Safety Working Group, constituted of key government stakeholders and NGOs, with the aim of key recommendations being incorporated into the government’s 2018 Road Safety Action Plan.

The project has also strengthened partnership working of PfRS with other child focused organisations including Caritas, which runs homes for street children, as well as UNICEF. PfRS have been coordinating with UNICEF Georgia, who are currently conducting research into the needs of street children in Georgia and the risks they face in a bid to help Government provide better support, as well as to institute preventative measures to protect children against a life on the streets.

Along with the project, the Partnership for Road Safety, with the support of EASST and the Foundation, has been working to promote road safety, sustainable urban transport, public transport, walking and cycling, through research, advocacy, educational and awareness raising projects in Georgia. Their work has been crucial in driving policy changes such as the adoption of Georgia’s seat-belt laws, and its enforcement, as well as establishing the government’s first-ever Road Safety Action Plan in 2017. Awareness raising campaigns and targeted stakeholder engagement are at the heart of PfRS’s success. This has involved continually working with the Department for Transport at Tbilisi City Hall to promote pedestrian and child road safety as well as cycling routes in Tbilisi. In a meeting with PRfS representatives, EASST and the Foundation’s Programme Coordinator, Ms Monalisa Adhikari, on September 25th, the Head of the Department, Mr. Mamuka Mumladze, articulated that PfRS has been instrumental in helping the department conduct evidence-based work on road safety as well as advocating on the issues of the community on road safety to the government.